- Best therapist-led group: CirclesUp
- Best for women: Woman’s Divorce
- Best for men: Men’s Divorce
- Best for middle-aged people: Mid-Life Recovery
- Best for 24/7 support: Talk About Marriage
- Best Christian divorce group: DivorceCare
- Best for parents: SupportGroups.com
- Best for children with divorced parents: DivorceCare 4 Kids
Of the many curveballs in life, divorce is one of the biggest shifts a person may face. On the Life Change Index scale, divorce ranks as the second most stressful life change after the death of a spouse. While divorce can feel like a huge mountain to climb, it doesn’t mean that you’re at fault or alone in this.
Ending a marriage doesn’t mean you failed. In fact, the American Psychological Association reports that 50 percent of first-time marriages end in divorce. With divorce being such a common occurrence, there’s no shortage of resources and support groups help you through this significant turning point.
Read on to find out if an online divorce support group is right for you.
If you’re currently going through a divorce, you may find yourself dealing with your mental health. Feelings of stress, anxiety, loneliness, shame, and resentment can build up over time and be difficult to deal with alone.
Online support groups supply accessible aid to help people experiencing divorce connect with others in their same position. People can find comfort knowing they’re partaking in programs developed by experts and surrounded by people who can relate to the emotions they’re feeling.
“Going through a divorce can feel incredibly lonely and isolating. If your social circle is lacking as a support system, a support group can connect you with people who understand and empathize with what you’re going through,” explains Joseph Bordelon, Owner of Christian Counseling Austin.
Traditionally, support groups have a leader who helps guide the group through conversation. With the emergence of additional online resources during the pandemic, online support groups make connecting with others as easy as sitting in front of your computer.
Whether online or in-person, members can opt to speak about their experience or choose not to share, depending on their comfort level. Typically, there’s an agreement that everything discussed in a support group is kept confidential which may help participants feel more at ease early on.
There’s also a multitude of divorce groups that serve different needs and situations. Some groups may be specialized for a certain gender, ethnicity, religion, or age. Other groups may provide support for newly single parents or for children processing the divorce. The array of resources can help people find a community they feel most comfortable in.
To select online divorce support groups, we searched for established programs that serve different communities and looked into comparative studies on online support programs.
Best therapist-led group
- Price: $30 per week
CirclesUp is an online platform that places you in a tight-knit support group based on your needs. Unlike some support groups led by coaches or peers, CirclesUp employs licensed mental health counselors who facilitate each group and lead the discussion. Groups meet on a virtual video chat each week. To keep things intimate and give everyone space to speak, each group has an intimate size of around six to seven members.
CirclesUp offers a free week trial during sign-up to allow users to try the group before committing to the weekly payment. CirclesUp provides a quick questionnaire before placing people into their group. Once a user chooses separation or divorce as their area of concern, they can choose whether they’d like to connect with people: in the process of separation or divorce, recently separated, or ready for a new start.
One Redditor wrote, “they really excel with their work in creating meaningful connections between their members and group mods [moderators].”
Best for women
- Price: free
Woman’s Divorce is an online website with an abundance of thoughtful articles, tips, free e-books, and a directory of therapists and lawyers. The one-stop shop was created to help women rebuild their lives and feel supported through every stage in the divorce process. The website provides informative articles on the basics of divorce, how to handle child custody and co-parenting, and how to re-enter the dating world.
Woman’s Divorce also provides insights on serious situations like issues with child visitation and spousal abuse.
While Woman’s Divorce doesn’t have a formal support group program, the website’s online forum is an active and engaging place to connect with others. Women come to the forum to ask questions as well as share their feelings, struggles, and success stories. Women can stay anonymous using their Woman’s Divorce username and there’s no video component, which may provide relief for those who prefer text-based conversations.
Best for men
- Price: free
Men’s Divorce was created by the law firm Cordell & Cordell to provide articles, videos, and tools to help guide men through their divorce journey. Most of the resources are through a legal lens and share tips for courtroom etiquette, child custody battles, and dividing marital debt. While legal advice is an important commodity during divorce, Men’s Divorce also provides a space for camaraderie in its online forum of nearly 10,000 members.
The forum covers topics like child support, finances, and tips for moving on once the papers are signed. The message boards are active, with some forums being updated almost daily. Members also seem quick to chime in to provide support to others and wade through the waters of separation and divorce as a unit.
Best for middle-aged people
- Price: $23.99 per month or $229 per year for women; $99 a year for men
Mid-life Recovery helps middle-aged women and men navigate life after divorce with special programming, an online community forum that can be accessed 24/7, and tips on parenting through divorce. After getting divorced at 33, Suzy Brown began to invite other women in her situation to her home for informal meetings. Once she found her footing, she launched her company Mid-life Recovery, which has been serving women for more than 20 years.
Mid-life Recovery’s women’s membership is called includes the MasterPlan, an online library of divorce recovery resources. The membership also includes community forums, a guide on parenting through divorce, interviews with experts, and more. Mid-life Recovery has month-to-month and annual payment options available for members, but financial assistance may be available to those who reach out to the Mid-life Recovery team.
The company also serves men with its Divorce Recovery Academy, which also includes resources, a community forum, tips on parenting, interviews, and more.
Best for 24/7 support
- Price: free
Divorce can cause day-to-day struggles and emotions. Instead of waiting until a future support group, people can vent or share their questions with online forums like Talk About Marriage at any time of day. Talk About Marriage has an engaged, active audience of more than 95,000 members. The website started in 2007 as a forum to discuss everything from infidelity, parenting, grief, financial problems in marriage, divorce, and other issues.
Talk About Marriage has four active forums that tackle topics for those considering divorce, those currently going through it, couples reconciling and people starting life after divorce. Most of the forums are updated by members hourly and have garnered tens of thousands of posts.
Talk About Marriage isn’t facilitated by a licensed counselor and doesn’t follow a program structure but the forum is free and gives people the space to connect with others for emotional support.
Best Christian divorce group
- Price: free
DivorceCare has been operating since the ’90s, when founder Steve Grissom was looking for resources during his own divorce. Grissom heavily researched the impact of divorce and connected with experts to create a divorce recovery program that was sent to churches around America in 1993. Now, anyone around the world can visit DivorceCare to connect with like-minded people from around the world who are also processing their divorce.
Users can search DivorceCare’s directory of meetings to find a group in their area or online. Due to COVID-19 safety initiatives, many neighborhood churches have moved their meetings to an online format as well.
DivorceCare has a dedicated group to discuss how to handle the holiday season, which can be a lonely time for many newly divorced people and parents. Groups are typically structured to follow DivorceCare’s 13-week program, though members can stay involved after the program concludes.
Reddit users on r/Divorce found DivorceCare meetings and resources to be helpful. DivorceCare attendees found that the groups were most helpful when the facilitators have also been through a divorce. “The material is good, but the group and the leader(s) make all the difference. If you didn’t like one group, try another,” explained one user.
Best for parents
SupportGroups.com hosts a collection of more than 200 online support groups, with topics on depression, grief, cancer, and much more. The free online community functions as a text-based forum, allowing members to start their own threads within the group message board.
Parents undergoing a divorce can sign up for single parenting support groups, where advice and emotional support are shared by other members. The Single Moms, Single Dads and Single Parents groups are a few of the active communities available with more than 35,000 members. The forum isn’t as active as websites like Let’s Talk Marriage and new posts usually arise once a week.
While the forums are less active, members can use the search feature to find conversations that relate to the situations they may need help with.
Best for children with divorced parents
- Price: free
Spouses aren’t the only ones who shoulder the emotional toll of divorce. Children of divorced parents can feel confused when their family unit is forced to change. The stress of a divorce can disrupt a child’s learning, lead to behavioral issues, and cause emotional distress. DivorceCare 4 Kids provides a safe space for children ages 5 to 12 to discuss their parents’ divorce.
The groups combine games, stories, music, and discussion to help participants cope with the grief of divorce. Since DivorceCare is a faith-based organization, the support group is led through churches in communities across the world. Some of the groups are available virtually due to the pandemic.
Divorce support groups can help you process the complicated emotions that come with ending a marriage. “While day-to-day life makes it easy to ignore your feelings, slowing down to process them can be extremely beneficial,” says Bordelon. “If you haven’t had time to work through emotions, joining a group can give you the space to do so, building self-compassion and improving negative self-talk,” he continues.
Consistency and structure are also benefits of online support groups. Bordelon finds that these groups tend to supply stability for those rediscovering life as a single person and adjusting to a new normal.
Holly McClain, a certified life coach and divorce specialist through the National Association of Divorce Professionals, finds that support groups provide more than just structure but also a special bond between participants.
Some positive benefits McClain sees include:
- Bonding with group members creates a positive connection and separates one from their personal struggle.
- Realizing through others that you’re not alone in your personal struggle creates a sense of comfort.
- Developing compassion and empathy for others helps separate you from ruminating or hyper-focusing on your own pain.
- Having the opportunity to support other members in your group allows you to step outside of yourself and support another.
- Group members holding each other accountable to show up, support themselves and encourage one another.
Are online support groups effective?
“Online support groups can be highly effective, especially during the pandemic or when attending a live group is not a possibility due to proximity or mobility issues,” explains McClain.
Even without the pandemic looming, online support groups may be more convenient for people who are unable to commute to a support group.
“The online format allows more frequent and informal participation, which can make it easier and more comfortable for people to get the help they need,” says Bordelon. Likewise, “online support groups are also great for people who don’t have a face-to-face alternative available in their area.”
There’s also the benefit of anonymity, which may help people who would prefer to connect with strangers outside of their own communities.
Are online groups more effective than in-person groups?
Research has found that online support groups can be just as effective as in-person support groups, but the two can be even more
McCain feels bonds are created quickly during in-person meetings and, often, these bonds carry on outside of the meetings. “When the in-person connection is made and a bond formed in an in-person group setting such as this, the likelihood of developing a significant and lasting bond is high,” she says.
Nancy Paloma Collins, a licensed marriage and family therapist, has noticed the opposite in her practice. Perhaps due to the familiarization of platforms like Zoom, Collins finds that participants tend to feel more comfortable in their homes. “A person doesn’t need to worry about traffic and being on time. Now, they grab their favorite tea or coffee, find a quiet place at home and click into their group session,” she says.
Collins shares that she’s seen participants express themselves more easily and have stronger focus when listening to others while in virtual group settings.
Is a divorce support group right for me?
“It is so important to ensure that the support group has a qualified leader,” says Dr. Brenda Wade, author, and advisor to Online For Love. When looking for a group, strive to find one that is led by a mental health professional or life coach with experience.
Group dynamics are another huge factor to consider and can contribute to your overall sense of belonging in the group. “There should be a well-thought-out divorce recovery structure and the people in the group are far enough along in their own healing journey, that no one person is going to suck up all the energy and time in the group,” says Wade.
Don’t be afraid to contact the support group facilitator to get a sense of the group dynamic and ask any questions you may have. McClain recommends people “reach out to the group facilitator and share a piece of your story and have them help you determine if your needs will be met within the group.”
There may be the misconception that you have to share your own story, but comfort is key. “It may be daunting to share personal issues and struggles with a group that feels unfamiliar. Start by just listening, this will prime you to the culture of the group, the implicit rules, and will help you find your footing,” recommends Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University.
“Once you’ve assessed and determined the group is safe, contribute your own thoughts and ideas to get the most out of the group,” she says.
Should I be in individual therapy?
Though it’s up to each individual, many of the experts we checked in with strongly encourage seeking out one-on-one therapy in addition to group therapy. “Absolutely seek individual therapy to work through the inevitable feelings of sadness, hurt, anger, and even perhaps self-blame. This will assist you in recovering your sense of self after this profound loss,” says Wade.
In addition to therapy, experts find that maintaining physical and emotional health through structured routines and self-care can be a helpful complement to group therapy. “Figure out what you learned by going through this painful experience of divorce and focus on attending training and groups on meditation, personal growth, and self-awareness so you can come out of this a better person than you went in,” shares Wade.
Do online divorce support groups cost money?
Most online divorce support groups for depression are free, though some may have a membership cost depending on the facilitator.
Are online support groups facilitated by mental health professionals?
While many online support groups are facilitated by mental health professionals, some are led by relationship coaches and experts.
How do I know if I should see a professional?
Divorce can be a mentally taxing experience, so there’s no shame in seeing a mental health professional outside of your support group. “People experiencing the end of a marriage may feel grief, depression, anxiety, and even fear. While these feelings are normal, if a person finds them overwhelming or discovers that their quality of life is diminished because of them, meeting with a mental health professional can help,” says Bordelon.
While ending a marriage can make you feel alone, there are many people who’ve been in your shoes and are currently going through the same. Finding a community of people who understand your situation can help you build structure, cope with emotions, and help you move forward in a positive way.
Jillian Goltzman is a freelance journalist covering culture, social impact, wellness, and lifestyle. She’s been published in various outlets, including Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Fodor’s Travel Guide. Outside of writing, Jillian is a public speaker who loves discussing the power of social media — something she spends too much time on. She enjoys reading, her houseplants, and cuddling with her corgi. Find her work on her website, blog, Twitter, and Instagram.